Report: Granderson to play CF, Gardner LF


Via Joel Sherman, the Yankees have decided that Curtis Granderson will start the season as the every day centerfielder, pushing the incumbent Brett Gardner to left. He notes that Granderson’s sometimes awkward routes have improved as camp has progressed, and the Yanks didn’t feel it was enough of an upgrade defensively to make the switch. The move will probably cost the Yankees something like five runs defensively over the course of the season, though we don’t have enough reliable data on Gardner’s defense to say with any certainty.

I guess the biggest thing is just making sure Granderson was comfortable. There’s no need to move him back and forth between center and left depending on who else was playing the outfield on a given day (Gardner, Randy Winn, Marcus Thames), the guy will have enough to get used to in his first season in New York as it is.

Categories : Asides, Defense


  1. Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

    Until Gardner can prove he is an everyday player, this is the right move.

  2. Also, it would undermine Grandersons role int he future if they didnt start him in CF now. If you were to say that Gardner should start because hes better defensively then youre saying that Granderson is not good enough to tbe the starting CF regularly. Lets say the Yankees go out and sign Crawford or Werth or some other big FA this coming offseason to play in LF. Then you put Granderson back in center because unless Gardner rpoves he can hit for power and average, I’m sure they’d want a stronger bat in LF.

    So hypothetically if this happened and Granderson would be moved back to CF in 2011, it would be awkward and insulting ebcause you’ve basicalyl said that he wasn’t good enough in 2010 but will have to suffice in 2011. Now I know Granderson wont see it like that cause he’s a genuine good guy, but its still an awkward position to be put it.

    • andrew says:

      There’s a difference between not being good enough and having somebody else be better though. I think Granderson would understand.

  3. YankFanDave says:

    Ditto on Andy-in-Sunny-Daytona’s comment and with you Mike. Also, Gardner is almost certainly a stop gap as the Yanks pursue Crawford or Werth for LF, with Crawford possibly coming this season via trade if the Rays season goes south. Bottom line, if the difference is as small as it is defensively: Let’s keep the star comfortable and have the role player, play his role.

    • pete says:

      I wouldn’t guarantee that Gardner’s a stopgap right now. What if he puts up a line that’s similar to his MiLB numbers this year, and shows himself to be as legit a defender as we think he is?

      If Gardner can hit .280/.350/.350, go 40/45 or better on SB, and UZR +15, do we really want to spend $12 million or more per year on a guy whose main avenue of production are those same areas (speed and defense), and who is liable to begin dropping off in production soon? Not to say it’s not worth pursuing, but I wouldn’t go over 4 years on Crawford, and probably not more than $50 mil total value. Chances are, somebody will beat that. If Gardner can put up a wRC+ over 95, and his D is legit, I think he’ll take on CF in 2011, and Granderson will shift over to left.

      I think that the yankees are fully aware of the possibility that gardner could provide significantly more cost-effective value than crawford in the future, but don’t want to make that call based on a small sample of ST. Instead, they’ll go with this full year as a gauge, where Gardner’s defense can be more effectively evaluated, and Granderson’s is unlikely to fall off a cliff. However, if this year confirms the yankees belief in Gardner, I think it’s clear that it would be preferable for the yankees to go into 2011 with an above-average offensive LFer who plays excellent to elite defense at that position, and an average offensive CFer who plays elite defense at that position, because it would enable them to use the Crawford money to sign Lee or Beckett, resign CC if he opts out, etc. etc.

      I think that, while there’s a very legitimate chance that gardner DOES lose the 2011 starting CF this year, it IS his to lose. I just think they want to give him a full season’s worth of tryouts, since he’s been such an enigmatic offensive player in the minors, improving drastically his 2nd year at each level. But if gardy can wOBA .345 and play +15 defense in center (not saying that he necessarily can, just that he has yet to PROVE that he can’t), that’s probably in the 6 WAR range. And chances are, he’ll never get paid what Crawford could pull in next year. I’m just saying we should give gardner all of 2010 before we state with absolute certainty that the yankees are going to pursue Werth and/or Crawford next year, beyond the usual price-driving measures

      • Bo says:

        Gardner is a natural 4th OF. He just doesnt hit enough to play a corner spot long term. Esp not with crawford n werth out there to be had.

        • pete says:

          Granderson, however, does hit enough to play a corner spot, and Gardner MIGHT be able to hit well enough (2010 ought to tell) to play center, especially if his defensive #s from 2009 were real. Like I said, if Gardner is, as his career MiLB #s suggest he could be, a .280/.350/.350 hitter, with his speed, he’ll provide roughly league-average offensive production. That would make him a plus overall CFer even if he were a completely average defender in center. If he’s an elite defender, which he appears to be, then he could provide a Nyjer Morgan-esque 5+ WAR.

          Crawford will likely match or slightly (by 1-1.5 wins) beat that for the next few years, then start to fall off. If he’s making the $12 or $14 million AAV that it very much looks like he could get, then why on earth would we pay an extra $11+ million for what might not be more than 1 or 2 wins per year?

          IMO, if the choices are Cliff Lee or Carl Crawford, and I’ve got an outfield of, left to right, Granderson, Gardner, and Swisher (IF gardner has the 2010 that I’m suggesting he could have) already, I’ll take Lee eight days a week, and twice on sundays.

        • pete says:

          I guess what I’m saying is that if Nyjer Morgan can provide a ton of value with almost exactly the same skill set, Gardner could potentially do the same (although I don’t expect Gardner to match Morgan defensively, but honestly, 4 WAR at gardner’s cost is WAY better than 5.5-6 (with high decline risk) WAR at Crawford’s potential cost).

      • Section 39 says:

        I completely agree. It will depend entirely on how Gardner does this year, but really, do we need to spend another 12-15/million on a #9 hitter? Crawford and Werth have both peeked, IMO. I would much rather the Yanks invest in more pitching next year than more replacing Gardner with Crawford/Werth. Of course, this all is dependant on how well Gardner does this year. But honestly, an OBP above 350 would do for me.

        • pete says:

          yep. I’m pretty much of the mindset that if Gardner can OBP .345 or higher in 2010, he’s our CFer in 2011. That’s just too huge of a financial advantage going forward to pass up.

        • YankFanDave says:

          If Crawford has peeked then Gardner’s peek isn’t too far in coming. Crawford will turn 29 in August while Gardner will turn 27 that month. Gardner is not a young prospect, what we see is what we got — a 4th OF.

  4. YankFanDave says:

    Oops, TheBronxBlogger hit send first by one second.

  5. Jim Johnson says:

    Considering the strong possibility that Carl Crawford is going to be our LF next season, which would’ve meant pushing Granderson back to CF anyway, this decision doesn’t surprise me. I can’t help but think that was a factor.

  6. paul says:

    no surprise there…an OF of grad, grand, and swish is very nice. gard just needs to hit 280, get o nbase, play solid d..grand hit a bit better vs lefties, bring avg up…swish do his norm…we are in good shape.
    totally agrre about crawford next year bein our LF…

    • DF says:

      I have to respectfully disagree with you about Crawford. I think he’s an exciting player to watch and I hate when he gets on base against the Yankees. But I really don’t want the Yankees to give him the kind of money and years it will probably take to get him. Speed doesn’t age well, and is susceptible to catastrophic decline from injury. Crawford without his speed has very little to offer. His power and plate discipline are average to below average.

      If Crawford was a guy the Yankees had brought up through the system, I’d be a huge fan. But as a free agent signing at 30? I think the Yanks should pass.

    • no surprise there…an OF of grad, grand, and swish is very nice. gard just needs to hit 280, get o nbase, play solid d..grand hit a bit better vs lefties, bring avg up…swish do his norm…we are in good shape.
      totally agrre about crawford next year bein our LF…;sr=8-1

      • king of fruitless hypotheticals says:

        hey tommie…is there a way you can skip the repeat of what they just said…and write something painfully witty or snarky…and then hyperlink…or use that neat acronym mouse-over tool…to link to the eats shoots and leaves…?

  7. Bo says:

    this was a no brainer. You dont go out and trade for a Granderson to move to LF. Esp not for Gardner who is a natural 4th OF.

    • pete says:

      you don’t know that yet. If gardner hits anything close to what he did in the minors, and defends anywhere near how he did last year, he’s way more than a 4th outfielder.

    • Dax J. aka The Bull in the China Shop Effect says:


    • Accent Shallow says:

      Guys, Bo isn’t totally off base here. Gardner may be an above-replacement level player, but he’s not going to be that much above average. Here’s RLYW’s recent projections for Gardner:

      He’ll be worth 2.6 WAR if he hits .288/.391/.414 and goes 46/5 SB/CS. They may be underrating his defense (or UZR is overrating it), but even a good Gardner season is unlikely to be above 2 WAR. Which doesn’t mean he’s not an asset, but it does mean he’s unlikely to be a stud.

      • pete says:

        that’s in LF though. WAR is position-adjusted. That offense would look a hell of a lot better in Center, and that’s not even accounting for better defense than projected (if it is). If gardner OBPs .391 in 2010, the yankees aren’t going to spend big money on crawford.

  8. radnom says:

    Gardner is not the incumbent CF.

    That man currently plays for another team.


      False. You can’t be an incumbent if you’re not currently with the team. The day that Melky got traded and the day Johnny signed with the Tigers are the days that their incumbencies ended.

      Melky’s not the incumbent centerfielder, he’s the erstwhile centerfielder. Brett Gardner, however, held the position of CF last year (albeit on a part-time basis) and never left the team, so it’s correct to call him the incumbent centerfielder… until this morning.

      The incumbent Yankee centerfielder is now Curtis Granderson.

      • radnom says:

        “You are technically correct-the best kind of correct.”

        And I read that as the incumbent starting centerfielder which I think is a reasonable interpretation. For example, you would get a lot of confused looks if you called Ramiro Pena the Yankees “incumbent shortstop” even though the help the position on a part time basis last year and never left the team.

  9. scoopemup says:

    I’d like to see the Yanks go after Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies.Crawford’s a real good player,but his best days are either upon him,or has past.This kid Gonzalez is the goods.

  10. 27rings says:

    Gardner is not better by 5 runs. Please don’t forget that Ganderson has a MUCH better arm that will help prevent runs. You need the better arm in CF.

  11. tony c says:

    I think by May you will see that Brent Gardner is not an everyday player and in time he will become the new Bubba Crosby!!!!

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